As my 30th birthday approaches, a lot of people have asked me how I feel about it. They, more often than not, seem surprised when I respond with, “I can’t wait” or “bring it on!” 30 is one of those milestone birthdays where certain things seem to be expected of your life. Engagement, marriage, house, children. None of those things are a part of mine. I am single, a renter, and almost 30. So what have I done with my life?
Of course I have made mistakes, but I have learnt not to regret things. It is through these mistakes that I have grown and developed into the person that I am. I am far from perfect, but I am happy with the person I am and am becoming.
I was inspired by a blog sent to me by a friend by a blogger in the same ‘position’ who wrote about what she has achieved by this milestone age. I am going to do the same.
1. I have 2 university degrees. A Bachelor of Arts majoring in geography, minors in theology and philosophy. And a Master of Teaching in primary education. These degrees not only allow me to work in a field I love, but has introduced me to some amazing people. Some I am still in contact with, others I’m not. But through those 5 years I grew a lot as a person and those people that I studied with played a huge part in who I am today.
2. I’ve fallen in love, a lot! With boys, then men, with bands, with friends, and most importantly, myself. On the note on friends though. I read a long time ago something about finding ‘the perfect soulmate’ or ‘finding a man who ticks all the boxes’ or something equally nauseating . But what it said has stuck with me forever. There is no one person who could possibly tick all the boxes, but if you find friends, who between them, tick all the boxes, you will always have the support around you that you need. I’m so lucky to have found that already.
3. I’ve travelled. There are so many stamps in my passport that now when I go through passport control, they need to flick through pages in order to find space to put the new stamp! In this travel, I have been to some incredible places, seen some amazing sights, been moved in ways I didn’t know was possible, and have ticked a lot of things off my (always growing) bucket list. It has opened my mind to so many things and challenged me in so many ways. I am definitely a better person for it.
4. I’ve done a scary thing and followed a dream. I moved to the other side of the world from where I grew up and from everything I knew. The journey from Sydney to London was terrifying, just me and the bags I had packed. I had to start fresh, and on my own. I never have had to rely on myself more than in my first couple of years. It made me realise how strong I am, how determined. It’s the best thing I have ever done for myself.
5. I learnt how to stand up for myself. I was a really shy and timid girl who lacked a lot of self confidence, but somehow, somewhere along the line that changed. I started speaking my mind, saying what I believed in and not backing down when I previously would have. That in turn has forced people who previously didn’t show me respect to change the way they treated me. And I learnt to respect myself in doing this.
6. I drove The Great Ocean Road! I know I have already mentioned travel, but there have been some experiences which have blown my mind. Since I started to develop an interest in physical geography and learnt about The 12 Apostles, and started to learn to drive, it was only natural that I wanted to do this. The drive itself was everything I wanted it to be, lots of curves, changing scenery, fast roads and I had so much fun just doing that! But when we got to the 12 Apostles, my breath was taken away. There was just such an indescribable beauty to them that photos will never be able to replicate. To top that off, the other sea formations that we saw were incredible as well, especially The Grotto. Such a beautiful reminder of the strength of the elements. A trip I will never forget.
7. I attempt to write… I’m not very good at it and no-one has ever read any of it, but I enjoy it and when I do on the odd occasion pick up my notebook and pen I find it quite therapeutic. This is probably the first thing that others will ever read.
8. I have gathered quite an incredible group of people around me. I have friends who are just no effort at all. Plans are only ever half made because we know each other so well, the other half is assumed. They are pretty cool friendships to have.
9. I’ve lived in a tiny flat share with people I didn’t know. Flatmate roulette is an interesting game, sometimes it works out, other times it doesn’t. The flat itself was a poor excuse for a residence. Tiny, no living room, just 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom…in a pretty dodgy area. Our downstairs neighbour was a drug dealer and there were domestics in the street all the time. I survived 3 years there, mainly because of the really cheap rent. But I survived, I stood on my own two feet, and it made the upgrade when I moved all that much sweeter.
10. I’ve not been proposed to…twice…by the same guy. He told me that he had bought me a ring, but he told me this after he had returned the first (chickened out) and the second to try and win me back. It made my realise that I don’t need someone else to buy me beautiful things to try to prove something. Actions speak louder than words.
11. I bought myself a ring. I went to an antique shop and I bought myself a beautiful vintage ring. It’s a stunning emerald cut aquamarine set with a couple of tiny diamonds. I love it.
12. I’ve learned to love my curls. As a child I was bullied because of my uncontrollable curly hair, it was horrible and emotionally crippling. Not what anyone should ever go through. I love my hair, it’s my crowning glory with a mind of its own (sound familiar?)
13. I worked at a special needs school for 5 years, first as a volunteer then as a teacher. It has opened my eyes so much to the world, how cruel some people can be, but also be wonderful and loving people can be. Those kids were so cheeky and not a day went past that one of them didn’t make me laugh. It taught me to truly see past disabilities and to see the strength of a person and who they truly are.
14. I’ve done some pretty cool things on my travels, paraglided in Switzerland, sky dived over The Great Barrier Reef. There is nothing like the rush you get from pushing your limits. Would do it all over again if I could.
15. I’ve learnt to stop being so nice all the time and have cut people out. They weren’t contributing anything positive to my life, they were just energy sapping and not worth the effort I was putting in. I’ve learnt the hard way how selfish some people can be, and I don’t need that in my life. I have so many amazing people to spend my time with and energy on.
16. I’ve stopped being so proud. I can now (mostly) admit and accept my limitations, and will swallow my pride and ask for help when I need it.
17. I cut my hair short without telling anyone (that was fun). Then let it grow long again, and cut it short again. It was scary the first time, I’d had long hair for as long as I could remember, but learnt I could rock it both lengths. I also donated what was cut off to a charity who makes wigs for kids with cancer. Will easily do that again.
18. I’ve found a new thing to get excited about, not that I’m any good at it. I started bouldering a little while ago and enjoy it so much. It is amazing how strong it is making me (when I go regularly) and has reminded me that I can develop new skills if I really want to.
19. I have visited a concentration camp. This is possible one of the best things I could have done. It was so moving and made me realise how important it is in my job to teach tolerance and respect. The emotions I felt that day in Auschwitz will stay with me forever.
20. I have been to 20 different countries. 17 of those have visited in the past 5 years, although some not for the first time. This was a surprise to me when I counted it up. No mean feat. …But I’m not done yet.
21. I’ve been on a holiday on my own. Despite having travelled so much, other than visiting family and friends I have only once been on a holiday on my own. I spent a week in Croatia on a boat. The people in my boat were not the best, but on that trip I did make one life long friend. I also learnt even more about me, who I am, the type of person I want to be, and importantly, who I don’t want to be.
22. When I started teaching, I set out wanting to make a difference to someone, just one someone. I wanted to have the impact that one teacher had on me growing up. I know I have already done this, for more than one student. One thing that made me realise this was on my usual commute to work one day. A boy I taught 3 years ago got on the bus, saw me, interrupted me reading my book, just to tell me what was going on in his life at that point, how secondary school was going and everything. He concluded with, “You know what Miss S, you are still my favourite teacher.” It was quite a lovely way to start that day.
23. I openly find joy in the little things. I don’t care if it means that some people think I act like a kid. I will race you to the swings, I will laugh and clap when something amuses me. I don’t care and I’m not embarrassed because I am having more fun!
24. I don’t suck at cooking. I’m not claiming to be amazing, but I have come a long way since I first started, when I somehow managed to burn some broccoli when steaming it… People actually compliment my food sometimes.
25. I have no fillings in my teeth. Not sure how I managed that one but I’m proud of it all the same.
26. I’ve learnt to say yet at the end of things. Such as, “I don’t know how to do that…yet.” It had a helped me change my outlook on a lot of things and not to limit myself in terms of what I can and cannot do.
27. I enjoy my own company. I am happy to have a night at home in my own, or a day to fill with no-one to spend it with. I then don’t have to check with anyone about plans, or what film to put on, or just read… My own company is fine, I don’t need people to help me validate each waking hour.
28. I taught myself to braid my hair. This is actually a big thing coming from me. I had mastered the ponytail, the messy bun and I could plait my barbies hair. That’s it, I could do nothing else. So about a year or 2 ago I taught myself to braid my own hair. One day I may even master a different hair style, who knows when I’ll stop! (Probably soon, my hair is long, my arms get tired…)
29. I’ve completed this list! It has taken me weeks of hard thinking so it was no easy task, which is why I am listing it. It can be difficult sometimes to acknowledge our own strengths and successes. We are, for some reason, so quick to point out our own failures and shortcomings. But that is not a healthy outlook to have. Some things in here seem quite trivial, but I have come a long way and it was quite humbling to complete. I turned out alright, because I had the right support, good time models and the self drive, and I still have these things.
30. I am so happy with who I am. Flaws and all. I am a product of my own decisions, I exist how I do because of the decisions I have made. I got a tattoo earlier this year to remind myself of that fact.